Gallagher, The Congress, and Health Care: What Don’t They Get?

Years ago, I saw Gallagher , the watermelon smashing comedian, and — in the talking part of his routine — he said something brilliant that I never forgot. He was talking about bounced-check fees and he said. “I don’t get it. Why do they ask you for something they know you don’t have?!” 

Though I had never thought of it before, he was right. Clearly, if you overdraft your account, you have no money, which makes it difficult to pay the fee for “bouncing” the check. And so it goes…

Fast forward to 2017, and I’m watching MSNBC interview a member of the “Freedom Caucus” and this man says they have enough votes to repeal and replace Obamacare. The interviewer is trying to explain that their plan won’t actually save people who need long-term care, but the man goes on to say, “We have a mandate from the American people to do this. We promised and we’ll make good on our promise”. The woman interviewer tries to explain “but there’s people under there”, but the man continues to talk about politics, including “rewarding good behavior with lower rates” and employment allowing good coverage. 

Bring in the watermelons and the sledgehammers. People are sick. It happens. People make mistakes. It happens. People have accidents. It happens. If any of those things happens to you, how do they expect you to get health — the thing they already know you don’t have? Not health insurance or healthcare, health. If you’re in a car crash, and you have to be employed to get insurance, but you can’t get to work because you were in a car crash, how does that work. Or, if you get the Zika virus, or Lyme’s disease, is it really your bad behavior — your irresponsibility– that caused the virus? Doesn’t the mosquito or tick have something to do with it? Shouldn’t they cover the illness? Seem silly? Well, so is blaming the victim of an illness — especially a long-term one! And what about skilled nursing care for seniors? Is it their fault that they got old?  Why does blame even enter into the discussion? 

What about the severely mentally ill? If they see wall as melting, do you really think they hold be running your drill press? Selling you a car? Watching your kids? Running for political office? Apparently they can buy a gun, and a silencer now, so maybe so, in “Freedom Caucus land”. I’m not saying we’re not responsible for our own health, but these are the same people who complain that obesity law and taxes on big bottles of soda are against the free-market! Whether or not we make good choices with our health, accidents happen, genetics happen, even stupidity happens on occasion. Long-term illness is a thing that happens. Until we accept that, and stop bowing to the free-market idol as though it’s more important than people, we’re never going to make this work. 

If the Republicans– or any elected official– cuts these things off, well, I guess they have a mandate. They’ll also have blood on their hands. Then we’ll have a mandate to vote them out, and a lot of funerals to do. I don’t want to hear about “compassionate conservatives” again.

Resisting with Peace,